- Corey Long, Reporter, RecruitingNation
One week in the books for Florida High School football this year, 14 more to go.
Gators run Team Tampa: During the offseason Team Tampa became the talk of the national 7-on-7 circuit. A solid mix of ESPN 150 prospects such as Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, Fla./Wharton), Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) and Alvin Bailey (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) and under-the-radar recruits like wide receiver Zach Benjamin (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic) and linebacker Isaac Tanner (Tampa, Fla./Freedom), Team Tampa proved to be the kings of touch football this spring.
So it's no shock that several members of the team will be playing together at the next level. For a while it looked like UCF had an exclusive pipeline to the team. First quarterback Pete DiNovo (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) committed to the Knights a couple days after the IMG National 7-on-7 tournament. He was joined (for a while) by ESPN 300 wide receiver Richard Benjamin (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Bay Techinical) and twin brothers Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood).
However, when it's all said and done, the Florida Gators seemed to be the biggest winners. They pulled Hargreaves from several other contending programs and followed up with ESPN 300 defensive lineman Jordan Sherit (Tampa, Fla./Hillsborough). Last Saturday's commitment from Bailey, however, solidified the deal.
"We have all been pretty good friends for a while so it seems natural that we would play together in college," Sherit said. "Even though each of us had different reasons for choosing Florida, it makes me happy that we all ended up there."
Sherit said don't expect the Team Tampa-to-Gainesville pipeline to end anytime soon. After all just 132 miles separate the two cities.
"With Brian Poole, Donte Fowler and Matt Jones from last year and us three this year, it's going to keep going," Sherit said. "Florida will continue to pull the top players from Tampa."
Bad break, smart choice: It was disappointing to hear about Ryan Green's season-ending shoulder injury. The ESPN 150 running back and Florida State commit will have surgery Friday and miss the next three months. He is hopeful that he can return in time to participate in the Under Armour All-America Game.
Ryan's father, Vader Green, said that his son could have probably played with the injury and gotten surgery after the season, but they are taking the safe approach.
"Ryan is very upset," Vader Green told NoleNation. "I am very hurt for my son -- he wanted to compete this year, but he understands it is better to be safe and have surgery this year and not have to redshirt [next] year."
Knowing the type of competitor Ryan Green is, I'm positive he begged his father to let him play but in that case the older, wiser Green made the right decision. Even talented running backs such as Green only have so many carries to give to football, and with a bright future at FSU ahead of him, this move was a no-brainer.
On a side note, Green's final game for St. Pete Catholic was a memorable one -- five carries for 196 yards and four touchdowns with one reception for 73 yards and a touchdown. That's six touches for 269 yards (44.8 average) and five touchdowns. Not a bad way to go out.
Second-chance star: Largo (Fla.) junior running back Jarvis Stewart doesn't want to talk about why he was kicked off of the varsity football team this spring. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior just quietly says he "got into some trouble."
Luckily for Stewart he was given a second chance by Largo head coach Rick Rodriguez and made it count when he ran in a two-point conversion last Friday to give Largo a 15-14 victory over Bradenton (Fla.) Southeast.
"I didn't realize how much I missed this team until I didn't have anything to go to," Stewart said. "I'm just thankful my coach gave me a second chance and my teammates took me back."
Rodriguez is well known around the state for being a master of tough love. He's booted many of his top players off his team regardless for violating rules. He is also big on second chances as long as the player can admit his mistakes and understand that there are consequences for such actions.
"Jarvis is a heck of a player and I think you'll be writing about him quite a bit when he's a senior," said Rodriguez. "But now he's learning how to be a good teammate and a good person. I've very proud of him."
Things you should read: Some of the weekly headlines from around the state:
Tampa (Fla.) Plant will suit up against Louisiana powerhouse John Curtis at the Superdome.
Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer is the latest program to "think pink" for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
It's hard not to root for Deland (Fla.) senior linebacker David Stewart after reading this.
Somewhat intriguing matchup, Part 1: ESPN 300 running back A.J. Turman (Orlando/Boone) vs. 2015 running back prospect Jacques Patrick (Orlando/East River): Turman is one of the most unheralded running backs in the state. Patrick might be the best sophomore prospect in the state. Both backs should gain over 150 yards in a classic duel.
Somewhat intriguing matchup, Part 2: ESPN 150 defensive lineman Caleb Brantley (Crescent City, Fla./Cresecent City) vs. 2014 offensive line prospect Reilly Gibbons (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg Catholic). It's hard to say how many times Brantley and Gibbons will interact tonight when but it would be nice to see the 6-6, 260-pound tackle get a good challenge given this is just his third game at the position and needs to answer a lot of questions. Unfortunately, Green's injury could complicate things a little.
Somewhat intriguing matchup, Part 3: ESPN 150 running back Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage) vs. 2015 defensive line prospect Byron Cowart (Seffner, Fla./Armwood). It looks like four-star lineman Roderick Johnson (neck) is a gametime decision. If he doesn't play, expect Bryant and Cowart to get to know each other very well. As a matter of fact, expect Bryant to meet the entire Armwood defensive line tonight.
Game of the week: Last week I wondered aloud (or as loud as Twitter could be) if the game between Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and Miami Christopher Columbus would be the best game played at Sun Life Stadium this year. It was certainly a good battle, with Aquinas pulling out a 38-28 victory. However, it might have just been the undercard for the real main event.
This week, Sun Life Stadium will be the scene for a Saturday night showdown between city rivals Miami Central and Miami Booker T. Washington. Central is led by class of 2014 running backs Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cooke, who will try to get back on track after a disappointing 35-3 loss last week at ESPN 25 top-ranked Loganville (Ga.) Grayson.
Booker T. Washington should prove to be no easier with the nation's top-ranked linebacker Matthew Thomas leading a defense loaded with prospects such as four-star cornerback Michael Johnson and class of 2014 safety Nigel Patten. Offensively, keep an eye on class of 2014 prospect Treon Harris and how he runs Booker T. Washington's spread attack.